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Sangha Meeting Notes: October 17, 2020

October 25, 2020

October 17 Sangha Meeting Minutes


In May, Damon reported that our initial budget loss of nearly $50,000, caused by the cancellation of many 2020 events, had been reduced to less than $20,000. Since that meeting, members of Mountain Cloud have been endlessly generous. Through donations and tireless efforts put forth by many individuals, the predicted budget loss of 2020 has turned into a surplus of over $30,000. This additional funding will help Mountain Cloud begin the process of transitioning to a hybrid model for next year and will allow for staff changes to accommodate all the growth at our center. Thank you to everyone who has donated or become a member at Mountain Cloud. We look forward to growing together into the new year


As we approach the end of the year, we must assess the challenges of 2020 and look forward to the new terrain that is 2021. In preparation for that, as in most years, we will be sending appeals in hopes of raising $50,000 to support us in transitioning through the new year. The Board of Directors has established a fundraising committee composed of board members and staff to lead this effort. In the next few weeks, this committee will begin sending out these appeals. Please consider donating to support our efforts.

RGMI Report

The Rio Grande Mindfulness Institute is an extension of the Mountain Cloud Zen Center’s mission. RGMI’s program brings mindfulness to school personnel and other workers at 13 different events. Since the pandemic, RGMI has been able to increase their outreach and has projects coming up in the next few months with United Way, Reading Quest and Santa Fe County, bringing mindfulness in new online modalities.

A few weeks ago, RGMI held a workshop bringing mindfulness to some employees at the City of Santa Fe, who like many others are experiencing high levels of stress. This 6 day workshop helped to further Mountain Cloud’s mission within our community and received a lot of positive feedback from those who experienced it.

Looking forward, RGMI will continue working to bring mindfulness to those in our community through adapted online techniques.

Plans for Re-Opening

The Board of Directors at Mountain Cloud has formed a committee to discuss plans for reopening and the logistics of how or when it would be safe for the center to do so. This committee’s actions will closely adhere to all public health orders in place to keep our community safe.

That being said, we will be holding an outdoor sit at the center on Saturdays at 1pm as we move towards the hybrid model. These outdoor sits will adhere to social distancing requirements and requires participants to wear a mask throughout the sit. We hope to continue to offer this outdoor sit as weather permits. Moving into 2021, we hope to maintain many Zoom offerings as we offer more in person opportunities, finding new ways to incorporate distanced participants.

Land Updates

There has been some progress on several land projects at Mountain Cloud. Recently, an arborist visited Mountain Cloud and advised that we trim the trees to at least four feet above the ground to mitigate fire damage. He also evaluated the health of the trees at Mountain Cloud and found that they were in good health but could benefit from additional irrigation in some areas. There has also been work on the old irrigation system and many of the paths throughout Mountain Cloud’s 23-acres. We hope to increase the number of outdoor events and walks at the center in order to increase access to the land and encourage our members to enjoy it.

Submitted by Katherine Rader.

Henry’s Teacher’s Report

May 17 to October 17, 2020

Big news! MC has had a second teacher since late September/early October! Valerie Forstman Roshi, known to many already, has joined the MC faculty as a full-time MC zen teacher, based in her Dallas home for now, zooming in. A milestone in our history! …. And a reflection of the growth of attendance at our events virtually.

We had our late summer annual recess, August 24 to September 6 inclusive. 

Sits continued, but all teaching activities were suspended.

Henry had a minor concussion late May which has continued to affect his neurological health, leading to some periods of withdrawal from activities: May 26 to June 6, and again for two weeks in August.


Daily sits

Two daily sits every weekday. 

Morning sits on Saturday and Sunday.

All ongoing, handled by Peg – a wonderful job of skillfully managing the scheduling of a large zendo team for all sits and retreats, coordinated on a monthly basis. Huge thanks to all leaders of sits. (Johanna had been helping with the complex retreat team scheduling – but as of early September, Peg took that on also).

Additional members capable of handling Zoom hosting have been trained by Damon and Johanna. Many thanks to all of them.  We now have six “Zoom host/jikis”…

Ongoing talks on Thursday evenings, and occasional Sunday mornings (for European visiting teachers). 

We have had talks from several visiting teachers:

Maria Reis Habito Zen Teacher from Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas.

Rollie del Rosario Roshi, a Sanbo Zen associate master from Philippines.

Eric Zimmer, of the podcast “The One You Feed”.

Migaku Sato Roshi, from Japan.

Zen Teacher David Loy from RMERC, Colorado, US. 

Zen Teacher Marlis Muting, from Germany.

Zen teacher Carmen Afable from the Philippines.

Zen teacher Hannelore Muller from Germany.

Maura Noone, senior MC student.

Attendance Thursday evenings — 40-75. 

Ongoing exploration of implicit unconscious bias both in ourselves, our sangha, our nation and our world, has been a theme – both in the talks offered, and in a board study group led by John Braman, Karen Klinefelter and Laura Cooley.


Intro Retreat: October 10-11, led by Valerie, with help from Peg, Mary Ann and Johanna. Our first online intro weekend, a great success with around 30 attending – to be repeated November 7-8…

Three-day retreat May 22-24. Co-led with Valerie. 

Halfday retreat June 7.

Four-day retreat June 25-28

Three-day retreat July 17-19, called “Original Love”, co-led with Valerie.

Four-day retreats:

August 20-23, Original Love 1 led by Henry.

September 24-27, Original Love 2 co-led by Henry and Valerie

Attendance at our retreats has been consistently in the 55-75 range, often peaking in mid 90s for talks.

The Original Love retreats are primarily led by Henry as he has been evolving the material to be explored during them. The plan is to have them be an ongoing feature of MC offerings, along with more classic sesshins and intro retreats and mindfulness retreats.


Virtual dokusan with Valerie has been ongoing since early October: Mondays and some Wednesdays.

Virtual dokusan with Henry has been ongoing most Wednesdays – but somewhat reduced and interrupted because of concussion recovery. 

Amazing help with zoom dokusan from Johanna and Dan.


Under the stewardship of Dan Martin, a small number of residents have been staying at MC:

Jason Long, John Serini, David, Regina Funfschilling, and others to come….

Intro Class 

–every Tuesday at 4pm with members of the intro team: 

Kathryn Stedham, Nancy O’Connor, Mary Ann Bennett, Luke Wientzen. 

Seeking to expand intro team to include some of our three “senior students” at MC: 

Will Brennan, Maura Noone and Bill Bruce.

Sarah left the team for full-time work at end of May, having helped to set up our virtual infrastructure. 


Visiting teachers: Carmen Monske from Spain.

Yaza: December 7-8 all night sit with our two teachers.

Retreats in November and December, and ongoing monthly thereafter….

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